Tagged: Tony Stark

Mike Gold Reveals The Inevitable

As the year winds down, it is common for wags to predict what is going to happen during the next twelve months. Quite frankly, I find these efforts to be almost always wrong and often ridiculous. However, that usually applies to politics and not to comic books, so this year I’m whipping out my crystal ball and I’m going to predict away.

Mind you, there is absolutely no effort behind this. Each of these are so predictable you wouldn’t be surprised to find them inside a stale fortune cookie. Which is my point. I thought I’d get that out of the way right quick.

I am going to restrict myself to Marvel Comics circa 2017. This is solely because DC Comics did the right thing and admitted The New 52 didn’t work, and Marvel has yet to own up to Civil War 2. Also, it’s about time ComicMix gave Dan DiDio a pass.

Even though they’re numbered, they are in no specific order. Ready?

  1. Steve Rogers will be the back with his round shield and some close form of his historic costume.

Sorry, Sam Wilson, but you knew this would happen. Steve Rogers is Captain America, and that has nothing to do with race or age or even skill. Just as Dick Grayson will never be the permanent Batman, even though a couple hundred other people seem to be right now (sorry, Dan; old habits die hard).

  1. Victor Von Doom will return to his tin can.

Action figures simply do not look good in Armani. I’m not saying Vic will return to his totally evil ways in 2017 – we might endure a Magneto-like moral ambivalence for a while. That’s kind of a shame as I’m enjoying the current storyline, such as it is. However, this will happen because…

  1. Tony Stark will return to his tin can.

Of course he will. Maybe not until after the next Avengers movie, but Tony Stark is Iron Man and that’s that. The movies turned him into an A-list superhero, and swapping out the human inside the can won’t work. Besides, they already gave his teenaged replacement her own code name.

 (A digression, common to ComicMix columns: why are they called “code names?” If you just said “Tony Stark” on an Avengerscom, both SHIELD and Vlad Putin would immediately know you’re talking about Iron Man.)

  1. The Fantastic Four will get back together.

There are several reasons why this will happen. Marvel Master Ike Perlmutter can’t stay in his petulant frenzy forever, and his energy will be divided when the Republican Party finally decides his buddy Donald Trump is too much of a pain in the ass.

Also, The Thing is running out of super-groups to join. Everybody is in The Avengers, and everybody is in SHIELD. But only four people can be in the Fantastic Four (duh!) and The Thing always has been the most popular.

But… Ben Grimm just might move to Israel.

  1. Doctor Strange will lose one of his monthlies.

Doctor Strange might just be my favorite Marvel character (Sub-Mariner gives him a run for his money in my fevered pantheon), but he has rarely been able to support one monthly title, let alone two. Or more; it’s so hard to tell these days. Yeah the movie was big (and great), but there’s no relationship between the number of titles a property can support and the long-term impact of a movie franchise.

Besides, there isn’t a Doctor Strange movie franchise per se. There is only the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, which may or may not extend to their many teevee shows. This is why you will probably pay to see the next Spider-Man movie but you will think twice about the next X-Men team movie.

O.K. These are truly no-brainers, supported by the overwhelming weight of history and a bit more logic than is safe to apply to the comics field. But comics are now acceptable and are big business, so the role logic will play in future decisions just might increase. Eventually.

That’s a shame. Legitimacy takes all the fun out.

Just ask Ike Perlmutter.

Dennis O’Neil: Superman – What Do We Really Know?

lois_lane_1964_by_ shawn vanbriesen

“Someone has just thrown Lois Lane from an airplane and she’s plummeting Earthward. But today is Humtyglumf Day, the most sacred day in the Kryptonian calendar – a day on which it is absolutely forbidden to rescue falling females. But if I do nothing, in about a nanosecond Lois will squish…”

Full disclosure: I don’t really know if Kryptonians celebrate Humptyglumf Day. On the other hand, I don’t really know if they don’t. Superman seems to have a lot of information about his shattered home world – he seems to knows a lot more about Krypton than I know about, oh…McCausland Avenue where, I have it on reliable authority, I spend the first four years or so of my life. But nothing about politics or religion.

The profit motive partly explains this. I’m thinking of one of my favorite novelists, now deceased. His name was John D. MacDonald and his best known character was/is Travis McGee. McDonald and McGee were, for me, buy-immediately-upon-sighting as I checked out the fresh paperbacks. I don’t know how many McGee novels I read before I realized how little I really knew about our hero. McDonald gave us what seemed to be a heap of personal data about his creation – his friends, his houseboat, his car, his workouts, his opinions of certain cities, his party-timing, all this and more well covered. Yessir, after reading two or five of the books you knew ol’ Trav. But did you? Tell me about his parents, his siblings (isn’t a brother mentioned somewhere?), his home town, the schools he attended, his political preferences, where, if anywhere, he worships…You might be tight with Trav, but you couldn’t fill out his census questionnaire.

I think what McDonald was doing, consciously or not, was employing a bit of literary legerdemain – what Penn and Teller might call “misdirection.” He gives you lots of detail and maybe you don’t notice that he withholds anything that is crucial – anything that might prejudice you against the character. (You don’t like Presbyterians? Well, he’s no Presbyterian!) It’s fair to say that most, if not all, writers of mass-consumption worked a similar dodge. The radio programs and television shows and movies were populated by…well, Americans! Probably ate white bread. Probably went to church (though which church we didn’t have to know.) Probably voted. (But which lever they turned is really none of our concern.)

Comic books? Let’s see…there’s Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker and Tony Stark and Steve Rogers…Nope – not an ethnic name in a truckload. And none of these guys have lapel pins indicating political preference, either.

I can’t decide if this pop culture homogenization has been helpful or harmful to the general welfare. Maybe a bit of both? I have a hunch that its time is almost past, but that’s not today’s topic. Nor is Humptyglumf Day.

Art by Shawn Van Briesen

Marc Alan Fishman: Civil War Rocks!


Good morning, ComicMixers. I believe we’re a good week and a day past the debut of Captain America: Civil War. I saw it with my wife on a much deserved date-night/Mother’s Day celebration. Suffice to say I loved the flick. And given that more than a handful of people at Free Comic Book Day were compelled to tell me they laughed at my anger over BvS: Dawn of Go Eff Yourself, it’s really nice to declare I loved this movie. I honestly have very little – if any – nits to pick. And rather than pick a single element and wax poetic on it for ya’ll, this week all my rattled brain will allow is a random smattering of thoughts revolving around the Russo’s amazing piece of six-one-six-cinema.

Oh, and clearly… SPOILERS ABOUND. You’ve been warned!

Earned Angst – Look, I hate to start my random thoughts with another cheap shot at SupEMOman, but I sort of need to. You see, the fulcrum of Civil War doesn’t rest on the now half-dozen or so world-ruining disasters from the MCU since Iron Man… no. It rests on the lost (and highly plausible) history between the Winter Soldier, Captain America, and Iron Man. The final fight sequence had the first bit of angst I’d seen that I honestly felt. Tony Stark – PTSD-riddled and alone again – finally needed to hit something. And what better target then the perfectly teethed super soldier who was just trying to protect his friend? Gravitas, thy name is Rogers.

A Continued Sense of Humor and Humanity – “Can you please move your seat back?” “No.”

“I’m shaking your hand too much, aren’t I?” “If anyone else has some amazing ability they’ve been keeping secret, now might be the time to show it!” Throughout the entirety of the two-and-a-half-plus hours of Civil War we were never far from a smirk or light chuckle. And always in service to the characters themselves. When we as an audience believe the performances as we do here, it’s OK to realize that even amidst a massive super-powered scuffle, these are still human beings (and, yeah, Vision). Even mumbled under their breath, they were allowed to crack wise now and again. And it never once felt dishonest.

Vision In Today’s Menswear™ – I don’t have much else to comment on other than I think it’s hilarious that Vision dresses marvelously when he’s not in combat.

Spider-Man Finally Done Right – Look, Tobey Maguire had the awkward look thing down (and he looked as believable as a high schooler as I do right now). Andrew Garfield had the quips mastered. But Tom Holland? Well, he has the youth, the nerdiness, and the quips. It was a perfect presentation, perfectly integrated into the MCU. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise; this Peter Parker stole the show.

Black Panther Finally Done – Simply put: could T’Challa be handled any better than that? Hell if I know, cause I thought he was top-to-bottom perfect. Regal, yet passionate. Reclusive, but fiercely loyal to an external cause. The outfit looked great. His confidence looked even better. Blade is now long in the tooth. Luke Cage is still only Netflix fodder (for the time being). If I’m a young black kid looking for a hero I can cheer on, one who could go toe-to-toe with any Avenger… Well, I need not look any longer.

No Need For Dessert – Civil War may have nearly burst trying to fit in so many characters, minor plots, and major moves… But ultimately everything presented felt part of a larger whole. I left the theater feeling like “the end” of the Captain America franchise allowed us to see Steve Roger’s true journey: From a scrawny kid to psuedo hero. From pseudo hero to real hero. From real hero to a lost hero. From a fish out of water to a leader in the modern world. And, lastly, we leave with Captain America up-to-speed, fully formed, and working towards his own ends. While Cap may not have felt entirely like the star of his own film here, the Russo bros prove it’s because he’s finally reserved to lead when he needs to. America in 2016 is no longer in need of a Nationalist Super Hero. Someone please let Donald Doom know that. But I digress.

GiAnt-Man – Seriously fun. Game changing. Funny, but perfectly placed in the scene. And it sets us up for some more hijinks in the pending sequel(s). More than all of that though, the debut of Scott Lang’s big trick reminded that this was still a comic book movie. Toss in Peter’s quip about the old movie being inspiration for taking Lang down and you have a capsule of everything right about Marvel’s movies.

A Realistic Approach to the Fantastic – Beyond every other point made here… what strikes me the most about Civil War was how very plausible the Sokovia Accords would be. Whereas the other movie just sorta chunked the whole “world is weary of what’s happening” into a little session of congress, here we have a truly global retort to all the catastrophe. Tony Stark’s resolve in the face of tragedy (not unlike Dr. Greg House reacted when being put in his place by a civilian) makes complete sense. The need for supervision, or at very least sanction to operate makes plenty of sense to me (#TeamIronMan). And Captain America’s rigid response, in light of all that fell during Winter Soldier with Nick Fury and the whole “pro-active vs. reactive super heroics” makes even more sense.

All that and they eventually solved the whole thing without killing each other.

Tweets Discuss Captain America Civil War

This week we talk all about Captain America: Civil War. And Anya gets mad about what she calls the 45 minute fight she says is in all Marvel movies…except this one.  We also determine that a Sharon – Steve match up is wrong  because Captain Carter is the OTP of all OTPs, so move over Lizzie & Darcy.  Anya also learns that she can’t talk if she’s sitting on her hands.  We also talk about the Black Widow movie (finally) and critique the pictures in the latest Rolling Stone article about Chris Evans. Yeah, there’s a lot of episode in here!

Marc Alan Fishman: Iron Man Invented Ultron!

Did you see it? Did ya did ya did ya? The latest trailer to the future billion-dollar-blockbuster-to-be Avengers 2: Age of Ultron didn’t dance around the revisionist history of the cinematic 616. Ultron, once the product of Dr. Hank Pym – of Ant Man fame, don’t you know – has been shifted to the fatherly arms of one Tony Stark.

Now, the movie isn’t out yet, and I’ve abstained for seeking any real spoilers (that the trailer didn’t spoil itself). For all I know, Tony “invented” it the same way Microsoft invented the Zune. But, let’s just assume that in the world of Joss Whedon’s Marvelverse, Tony Stark did as he said: he attempted to create a solution to the ails of the world… and in doing so, created a would-be destructor instead. Simply put, this is a brilliant move by the boardroom of Mickey Mouse. Old school fans be damned.

An old adage I was taught in screenwriting class was that “you don’t put a gun on the table if you don’t plan on firing it.” The idea being that storytelling in a restricted amount of time (like a 150 minute movie) means sometimes having to consolidate resources. And while I’m sure I could have my ear talked off by someone older than me on the rich history of Pym’s creation of the aforementioned villain, it’d fall on deaf ears. The biggest reason: the story thus far in the Marvel movies has wonderfully built to this outcome.

Take a trip through Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Avengers, and Iron Man 3. The genesis to the Marvel Studios empire was built on the back of Anthony Stark: war-monger, philanthropist, martyr. It makes complete sense coming out of Avengers and Iron Man 3 that Tony would feel compelled to create a machine to solve the world’s problems. And it’d make even more sense he’d imbue it with a bit of his own panache. Any decent scientist will tell you the man who could invent Jarvis as presented is more than capable of creating the AI that wants to end humanity in order to save it. No one builds a monologuing AI better than Tony “Poke the Hulk in the Tuccus” Stark.

What I love even more than the choice to saddle Tony with the idea for Ultron is the potential stories that spin out of it. Akin to Grant Morrison’s astounding Tower of Babel arc in JLA, here the biggest threat to the Avengers (and the world at large) isn’t the rampaging id, alien demi-god, or right-wing cyclops… it’s the narcissist futurist. And given the name drop of Captain America: Civil War and the leaked stories of Tony’s appearance in it, it doesn’t take much brain power to see that Captain America may end up opposite his teammate over something as trivial as potentially almost ending the world. Plus, Tony also sorta created Whiplash and a fire-breathing Guy Pearce. If that’s not enough to go to war, then I don’t know my politics.

Beyond Cap there’s potential steam to be blown off by countless others. And what of Tony’s Science Bro, Dr. Banner? Maybe he’ll be more sympathetic to a man trying to quell the beasts of the world and messing up. And what of Black Widow or Hawkeye? One would imagine they aren’t ones to choose sides quickly. And then there is S.H.I.E.L.D. and all of that potential mess.

Whedon’s recent interviews have all beleaguered the point that with this sequel the story is decidedly more insular than the previous iteration. Avengers pretty much charged out of the gate swinging, and there was hardly time for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to fraternize. Those critics devoid of our fanboy hearts saw the coming together of the menagerie of complex costume choices as being inherently explosive.

In simpler terms, put that many type-A personalities on one giant flying fortress and you were bound to have an alien invasion and the near destruction of New York City. Of course we’d all beg to differ, but the outsiders have a point. And it all comes back to Tony.

At the end of Iron Man we were introduced to the concept of the superteam – a­­nd the tin man was clearly at the core of it. When Tony stepped on the Triskelion, he treated it as if he owned it. And after he illegally downloaded all the secret files within, in a way he did. And he was quick to reveal to his fellow Avengers how secretive and potentially damning their would-be employers were. Forever the smartest man in the world… doomed to see his biggest ideas twisted into death and destruction. Tony Stark is karma’s bitch.

And Avengers 2 will be amazing because of it.


Emily S. Whitten: Spider-Man & Marvel’s REAL Civil War!

Wait, what? You guys, what?? Is it…is it true? Did the magical wish-granting fairy grant my (second biggest, after the upcoming Deadpool movie) Marvel movie wish? Is Spider-Man really coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in time for Civil War? Or am I hallucinating due to lack of sleep?

Nope, it’s real, and what’s more, I’m not the only one speculating that Spider-Man’s first appearance in the MCU may be in the Civil War storyline, which is something I’ve been wishin’ and hopin’ for ever since the possibility of Civil War on the big screen was even a glimmer of a speculative thought. It’s no secret that I love the Civil War crossover storyline, and if you don’t know why, just read those two links for plenty of reasons (and, uh, SPOILER WARNING and all that, both for those links and below).

But in brief: the Civil War crossover, though complicated in many ways, can be distilled down to the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act into the Marvel universe, and the two sides distilled down to those who decide to register and reveal their secret identities, and those who fight registration to retain their personal privacy and freedom. It was a brilliant concept when introduced, because not only can readers identify with it via the analogies that can be drawn to various real-world issues (like surveillance and invasion of privacy and personal freedom, and the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D., which is supposed to be a governing force for good, ends up being a brutal enforcer of the Act), but it’s a fight that every main character in the MCU has a stake in, merely by dint of being a superpowered or vigilante fighter.

The secret identity angle is such an integral part of most super-folk that it pulls most of them in to some extent or another – but also, the backstory and personality of a particular character do a lot to determine what side they choose. And some of the choices are surprising. The Civil War storyline allowed writers to delve into the heart of why the heroes make the choices they do (although I always wish they’d done even more with them). And it gives us a legit reason for more badass scenes like that one in The Avengers where Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America duke it out full force, even while they remain (more or less) the sympathetic heroes that we love.

But despite all of the reasons I’d be excited to see any version of Civil War onscreen, if it turns out that Spider-Man’s first MCU appearance is in Civil War I’ll be doubly excited because Peter Parker’s heartbreaking journey during that storyline really gave it a focus and a character’s path to follow, even in the midst of all the rest. The choice he made to support the Act for both logical and personal reasons, and to work with a man he looked up to, Tony Stark; the consequences of that choice in both the short term and the long; the manipulation and betrayal by Tony even while they both thought they were doing the right thing; and the decision that Peter made to turn his back on his original choice, despite it almost being the death of him, make for a compelling story that pulls the rest of the characters’ journeys together; and any Civil War without Peter’s story will be severely lacking. Not to mention that the visual and emotional impact of some of Peter’s scenes would be amazing on the big screen, as would the Iron Spider suit that plays a big part in Tony’s betrayal.

Really, I could go on for hours about why Spider-Man is, in some ways, the heart of the Civil War tale, and it just wouldn’t be the same without him; but instead I’ll just take this moment to rejoice in his return to the fold of the Marvel family on the big screen, and to hope with all my little comic-book-loving heart that he takes his rightful place there in a well-told story during Civil War.

And until next time, cross your fingers with me and Servo Lectio!


Mindy Newell: Reflection In A Dark Pool

Through the mirror of my mind / Time after time, I see reflections of you and me / Reflections of the way life used to be / Reflections of the love you took from me • “Reflections,” by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland, recorded by Diana Ross and the Supremes, 1967, Motown Records

Like every other art form, comics – or more accurately, the creators of comics – reflect the times in which they live.

I started reading comics in the Silver Age, when superheroes were manufactured like products in factories, conveyed along conveyor belts of post-World War II American middle-class morality, which ensured that everything but the packaging was the same. Each hero kept their true nature hidden behind a pair of glasses, or a secretary’s typewriter, or a desk in a high school classroom. Each hero lived a lonely life, because to reveal their secret would only endanger their loved one. And each rose above their personal traumas and tragedies to fight for “truth, justice, and the American way.”

And we felt good about our heroes, and about ourselves.

Then, while Mississippi burned and Vietnam raged, “let it all hang out” and “tune in, turn on, drop out,” became the mantra of a generation. The real world intruded onto the four-color page as mutant X-Men fought societal preconceptions of race, religion, and gender roles, Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick, became a drug addict, and alcoholism consumed Tony Stark.

And even though our heroes suffered, they rose above their personal battles and we felt good about them, and about ourselves.

Then came the “Brit Invasion” of comics, and writers like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Peter Milligan, Grant Morrison, and Jamie Delano turned comics inside out and upside down. Our heroes became just like us, only more so; questions about identity and debates about right and wrong plagued them. Nothing was black-and-white in the four-color world, anymore; doubts and uncertainty ruled decisions, and outcomes were often ambiguous.

But we still we rooted for our heroes, because through their problems, we understood our problems, and so we felt good about our heroes, and about ourselves.

But now I wonder… yes, comics still reflect the real world, but now it too often feels like I’m leaning over the railing of a ship and spitting in the wind. The realism flies back in our face.

The world seems to me uglier today than it ever was. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda and ISIS have made the Crusades and the Inquisition footnotes in a text on religion as an excuse for totalitarianism and war. Cyber terrorism raises the specter of a war between creative freedom and potential lawsuits, and creative freedom loses. Racism is alive and well again as acts of violence and death are perpetuated by those who wear a uniform that is supposed to stand for protection against such acts. The so-called leaders of our country are unfunny clowns in a thunderdome of viciousness and ugliness, and a vice-president, the man-who-would-be-king, defends torture as the American way. And hardly anybody votes, because hardly anybody cares.

And we no longer root for our heroes, who are us, but only more so, because, you know, all art is a product of its society, and comics are an art form, and comics are created by artists who are can’t be blamed for reflecting the society in which they live.


Martha Thomases: Party Time!

I’m having a hard time focusing this week. See, Sunday is my annual Hanukkah party, and I’m in a tizzy making sure that I have enough food for my guests. My parents taught me that if I don’t have leftovers, I didn’t get enough. I don’t know how many people are coming.

Which is complicated even after the food is ordered. There’s the entertainment.

There was a time when I had a day job and most of my friends had day jobs, and we’d see each other at the various office parties we attended. In my time, I’ve attended holiday parties at DC and at Marvel. Both were fun. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, but I never saw any of the shenanigans associated with office parties. No one was photocopying his naked butt. No one was having sex in a closet, or in a desk piled with coats. Nobody even vomited in a public place. Everyone was aware that while this was a party, it was a party on the job, and no one was going to be too embarrassed to come back to work in the morning. At least not that I saw.

Those days are gone. People don’t have permanent jobs so much anymore, and those that do either don’t have parties or have tougher security so I can’t get in.

Which is fine. I mean, my favorite thing about my party is the mix of people. There are my friends from high school, from the neighborhood, and from knitting. There are people I know from the peace movement and from freelance journalism and from comics. Sometimes some of my son’s friends show up, which makes me feel like the cool mom.

It is the mix that entertains me. I like to see who clicks and who doesn’t. Naturally, because I honor my inner eight-year-old, I then wonder what it would be like if superheroes had holiday parties.

When Clark and Lois (I like to think they’re still married) host a tree-decorating party, does Bruce Wayne come? Does Guy Gardner? I like to think so. If they do, how are they introduced?

For that matter, when Tony Stark has a party, does he invite Bruce Wayne? They would seem to travel in the same circles. Holiday parties are the perfect place to plan new corporate strategies. Lex Luthor would probably have to be there, and I’m sure Stark Industries does enough business with the federal government to have a relationship with various embassies. Wonder Woman would certainly have to be invited.

A lot of superheroes know intergalactic aliens. Does this make catering more difficult? I don’t think there is any reason to believe that a Kree or a Dryad or Martian can eat, much less digest food from Earth. And what does that do to the plumbing? Is that covered by home-owners insurance?

I would bet the Guardians of Oa (not the Galaxy) have an etiquette book that answers these questions.

Any party is improved with a touch of the unexpected. Certain characters, not born in comics but occasional residents, should be welcomed. Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Dobie Gillis, Jerry Lewis – these are folks who add spice to the mix. And they would be someone for the Angel and the Ape to talk to.

Would any of these parties be as much fun as mine? I doubt it.

Have a wonderful Hanukkah party, folks. I wish you the most landings on gimmel.


Mindy Newell: Sephora Kicks Super-Ass!

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.” – Gwyneth Paltrow

“I fought a killer and didn’t even smudge my makeup.” – Rose Pressey, Flip that Haunted House

After a fun time with my grandson – soon to be 14 months old! What’s that saying about time flying? – on Friday at Gymboree, I drove over to Sephora to buy some concealer for my 61 year-old under-eye bags and of course ended up spending too much money on other shit that I probably didn’t need and which I justified by telling myself that I hadn’t splurged on said self in a year so stop worrying and learn to love the bomb, as Kubrick so aptly put it.

Anyway, driving home I got to wondering about what kind of skin care and make-up the superheroes use.

There are dozens – hundreds? – of mascaras that claim to be waterproof (though I’ve never used one that stands up to the pool or the ocean) and that will stand up to the most exhausting and sweat-inducing workouts and ultra-triathlons. There are dozens – hundreds? – of foundations and blushes and lipsticks and eye shadows made by companies, from deluxe department store brands to those found on a drugstore carousel rack, that claim to “lasts all day!,” withstanding everything from a walk in a tropical monsoon in Mumbai to a passionate, epic 24 hour tumble between the sheets. And there dozens – hundreds? – of skin care products promising to turn back the clock and/or replace more invasive products like Botox or Juvaderm or – going all the way – cosmetic surgery.

So what does a superwoman wear while she’s pummeling – and being pummeled by – her equally meta-powered enemy? Surely Superman needs a little styling gel to keep those oh-so-sexy Kryptonian curls and waves mussed in just the right places?

After all, no super hero wants to be seen with puffy, dark-circled eyes and a turkey neck. Doesn’t inspire much confidence in the civilians to be seen looking “tired and drab” when you set out to stop the latest threat to Earth.

WHOOSH! The Flash needs help. Yeah, that – ahem – flashy red suit of his is designed to withstand the friction and wind he creates as he rushes to help, sometimes hitting velocities beyond the sound barrier. But what does he use to prevent the certain skin damage to his wind burned and chapped cheeks, chin, and lips?

Speaking of skin care, here’s some other meta-human types that could some help with their epidermis:

  • The Thing. ‘Nuff said!
  • Iron Man. “What?” you say. “Tony Stark is enclosed in technological armor. He doesn’t have to worry about sun exposure!” Yes, but it gets hot inside that face plate. After a hard day at the office, there’s nothing the man needs more than a really good skin care regimen to cleanse out those pores and remove the layer of dead cells. May I suggest a little exfoliation two to three days a week with an at-home peel?
  • Power Girl: You do a good job covering up, Kara, but you’re forgetting that delicate skin in your décolletage area. I recommend a moisturizer with an anti-antioxidant ingredient (vitamins C and E, for instance) and a SPF factor of at least 25. But stay away from moisturizers containing retinoid or alpha hydroxy acids, because they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and its photo aging properties, especially in the summer or in equatorial climates where the sun is always strong.
  • Starfire: Lady, I know you’re an alien, and that orange skin indicates the presence of melanin which helps protect the skin from sun damage, but really! With that costume exposing more skin to photo aging than Bettie Page on a beach shoot, you are risking looking like a prune before you’re 30! Hey, I’m the first one to say flaunt it if you’ve got it, but – never mind the moisturizer, you must cover up if you don’t want to develop a raging case of melanoma!

If looking delectable and gorgeous is part of the “brand” of taking on super villains, do ultra-women deliberately choose to look their best as they beat the crap out of some megalomaniac with phasers and lasers or even “old-fashioned” dirty bombs and plans for world domination as a subtle means to throw their villains off their games? Think about it. Wouldn’t, say, Arcade, so taken with Storm’s exotic beauty, deliberately lower the level of “play” in his Murderworld so as the woman wouldn’t be too bruised or battered?

Or, on the other hand, would Diana’s Amazonian beauty, enhanced with the understated mineral powder foundation and bronzer, the finest kohl eyeliner, the warmest clay lipstick offered by the cosmeticians of Themiscrya, only work to throw Barbara Minerva, aka the Cheetah, into a jealous frenzy of the nth degree, giving her even more of an excuse to rip her talons into Wonder Woman’s face?

Maybe the Grecian powerhouse should rethink her look when she’s up against women who hate her.

Yeah, if I lived in the alternate realities of Marvel and DC and Image, et. al., and I was a smart marketing or R&D executive at Lancôme or MAC or Estee Lauder or Maybelline or Revlon or Urban Decay, et.al., I’d convince my bosses to develop a line of skin care products and make-up specifically tailored to the super set.

And if it’s good for them, just think of what it would do for us working slobs.

Talk about product placement!


Martha Thomases: What – Me Nerdy?

English is a living language, which means that the words evolve through usage. It’s the kind of thing that drives grammar nerds crazy, such as when a person uses the word “literally” to mean “figuratively,” e.g. “I literally could not be any hungrier,” when you’ve only missed one meal.

What drives this grammar nerd crazy is the vulgarization of the word, “nerd.”

I don’t mean that ner” is a vulgar word. Rather, I mean it no longer means what it used to be. In my day (by which I mean, all that is real and true forevermore), a nerd was someone who was socially awkward, maybe a little OCD, and with obsessive interests in matters seen as trivial by more well-adjusted members of society. There were comic book nerds and science fiction nerds, but also AV nerds and theater nerds and band nerds.

“Nerd” was the word the cool kids used to put down their social inferiors. Therefore, by definition, a “cool nerd” is an oxymoron.

Because of this, I remain amazed every day by the popularity of so-called “nerd culture,” such as the blockbuster movies based on science fiction and fantasy books and comics. I’m not used to a world where everyone knows who Tony Stark is.

And now, perhaps as a sign of the Apocalypse, we have people calling out nerds as bullies who exploit their position at the top of the social ladder.

I’m not going to refute the politics of this piece (which is done fairly well here, although, as a nerd myself, I have some disagreements). I’ve already been kicked off this site once for talking about politics too much.

The author, Charles Cooke, confuses many things, including what kind of people are actually nerds. Al Gore… really? Al Gore is a lot of things, but he is not socially awkward. Neither is Neil Degrasse Tyson. Both men can hold their own in an interview, without notes, without a teleprompter. Cooke also confuses knowledge for opinion – although, as Stephen Colbert has taught us, “reality has a liberal bias.”

In fact, nerds are not all progressives. They are no more likely to base their political opinions on facts alone (as opposed to emotion) than anybody else. I remember one of my first arguments at the Marvel office in the 1980s, when several people said they would vote for Reagan instead of Mondale. I would describe the candidates stands on the issues, and that didn’t matter. They wouldn’t vote for a “wimp.”

I also am amused to see comments on message boards about Marvel and DC (and, to a lesser extent, Dark Horse) “forcing” writers to take political positions in stories, such as introducing an Hispanic Spider-Man. Marvel and DC have enough trouble getting the books written, drawn and printed on time. They want to get the talent that is most reliable and most sought after by fans. Politics is way, way down on the list.

I like to see science and math and history and economics valued in our culture. I enjoy having the opportunities to research the things that interest me, which is easier when having interests is considered to be cool. I like seeing scientists and comic book fans as television heroes … although the depictions are not necessarily any more real than those of TV cops, lawyers or doctors.

We could have worse heroes than scientists. If it’s good enough for Bruce Banner and Barry Allen, it’s good enough for me.